Essays on the issues of readability in business disciplines

Abstract: A determinant of effective communication is readability. Put simply, readability is a prerequisite and key criterion for understanding the written word. Readability involves writing a piece of text in a way that provides a good chance of understanding it and transferring meaning between the writer and the reader at first exposure and in the same sense that the writer intended. Business communication often uses a considerable amount of written text to deliver its messages. Whether these texts are read and understood by the intended target audience may depend highly on the ease with which they can be read. If a user of business information cannot comprehend the content of written materials, a shared understanding between user and author cannot be achieved. Therefore, readability should be any business writer's primary goal, yet it is a tough and ongoing challenge.While not advocating that writers need to oversimplify their texts, business communicators should make a conscious effort to ensure that their writing is simple, concise, consistent, and easily understandable to all prospective readers. However, many business texts seem to be written with little thought to general readability. The readability problem with much of the written material that people create in different business disciplines may arise from assuming that they are conveying the intended message to the target audience and being unaware of how people absorb written information. This thesis aims to address the issues of readability in business disciplines by reporting on five studies. The first article reviews existing readability literature in different business disciplines. This paper identifies the breadth and diversity of readability research content as well as the main directions and magnitude of progress. It aims to examine the current trends in the area to better understand and foresee their impact on development of the field and, based on the analysis of past readability research in business, to provide clues about the future. The effectiveness of business texts in communicating with readers will be investigated based on their readability through the remaining four papers that are examined for this thesis.Texts are routinely evaluated for comprehensibility using a variety of approaches and materials, including readability measures. These measures aim to compute the difficulty level of a text. In this thesis, many of these measures were used to evaluate the selected business texts to determine their reading level and to discover the differences in the reading level among various sources of business texts. This thesis concludes with insights gained from the five articles, providing implications, limitations, and directions for further research.